The Star-Herald

Tourism numbers bring good news

The 2018 tourism statistics are now available for Aroostook County.  Why should you care? The economic impact of tourism money in our region goes far beyond the initial spending.  The money circulates through the economy. The cost of hotel rooms, fuel and food then pays wages, buys other goods in the community, and more. 

In 2018, the amount spent by visitors to our area covered wages for 2,957 people with a total of $57.6 million in total earnings that then flowed down into $15.7 million in total taxes.

Even better news is that the numbers for 2018 were up over 2017.  According to DPA, the firm used by the Main Office of Tourism to analyze the figures, an estimated 1.46 million travelers visited Aroostook County in 2018.  This represents an increase of 6.6 percent over 2017. Of this number, 595,200 stayed overnight placing more money into the local economy for that trickle-down effect.  These 1.46 million visitors spend a record $166 million, up 7.1 percent from 2017. That money was spent on lodging (30 percent), food or restaurants (26 percent), retail sales (22 percent), gasoline (11 percent), recreation (10 percent), and 1 percent on “other”.  

These statistics are very useful for business owners as well as they tell us where to focus our marketing efforts.  Maine, Canada and Massachusetts account for the greatest proportion of day visitors with the average age around 40. Day visitation was definitely up in 2018.  Most overnight visitors were most interested in exploring the food/beverage/culinary choices, shopping, and touring/sightseeing.  

Maine also performed very well on exceeding the expectations of our visitors (64 percent), which is a great way to keep them coming back.  Ranking high were the friendliness of the people and the welcome they received. Our communities were perceived as authentic with their own individual personalities where the visitors felt they had distinctive, genuine and unique experiences – a very important benchmark for today’s traveler.  

A high majority of overnight visitors (76 percent) indicated that they were likely to visit Maine again in the next two years with 85 percent of day visitors expressing the same.  Overnight visitors (93 percent) enjoyed their visits to such an extent that they intend to recommend Maine as a vacation destination.

Of no surprise to those of us in Aroostook, the majority of our Canadian visitation was from New Brunswick and Quebec.  Out of state visitors were primarily from Massachusetts, southern Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.  

In summary, visitors today want more than just sightseeing — they are looking for a positive interactive experience.  Everyone in Aroostook truly has a stake in the tourism industry. Keep up the good work so we can look for even better numbers for 2019.

Kimberly Smith is the resource development and public information officer for the city of Presque Isle. She can be reached at 760-2722 or via email at ksmith@presqueisleme.us.

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